Google’s best beaches almost unknown in Thailand

Did Google Maps get lost on the way to Thailand's best beaches?

Last year, both Thai and foreign tourists took to the virtual highways and byways – and often the real ones – searching for Thailand’s best beaches. As the pandemic receded, the vigilant eye of Google Maps was goggling at you, benignly recording your every move, or so the corporation claims.

Google’s best beaches in Thailand are those with the most interactions on Google Maps in 2022. Some of the criteria for inclusion seem to have been a bit weird.

Thailand’s beaches are perhaps the country’s central tourist draw. Many people visit Thailand knowing next to nothing about the country except sand and palm trees. Google’s best beaches in 2022 were located in six provinces Chon Buri, Krabi, Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Rayong and Surat Thani.

Few surprises there.

The surprise comes when we see the list of Thailand’s top beaches is headed by the breathtakingly beautiful Bo Thong Lang Bay in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, at least according to The Nation. For anyone who has never heard of the place, let’s give it a few more clicks. Here it is.

Many of the other choices are peculiar, to say the least. Chon Buri was recently declared home to the world’s second-best beach. But neither Pattaya nor Jomtien beaches feature. Aren’t there thousands of drunken searches for Jomtien every day? Can befuddled tourists get there or away without Google Maps? Chon Buri’s two most-searched-for are both on Koh Larn, a wonderful little island in the Gulf of Thailand, 7 kilometres from the world’s second most popular beach.

In Phuket, there is no mention of Patong or Kamala. Phuket’s most searched beach on Google Maps is Thala Beach. It’s easy to understand. According to Google, there is no Thala Beach in Phuket, and if there is, it’s a clearing in the mangroves. People will search for a long time, looking for something that isn’t there. Even Thalang beach, if there really is one, is widely known as Laguna or Bang Tao beach.

And exactly who spells Noppharatthara with two thumbs when Ao Nang is just a stone’s throw away?

The full top ten most-searched-for is as follows.

  1. Bo Thong Lang Bay, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  2. Samae Beach, Koh Larn, Chon Buri
  3. Haad Wai Nam, Ko Pha Ngan, Surat Thani
  4. Sai Nuan Beach, Koh Tao, Surat Thani
  5. Bang Por Beach, Koh Samui, Surat Thani
  6. Ta Yai Beach, Koh Larn, Chon Buri
  7. Nam Rin Beach, Rayong
  8. Baan Tai Beach, Ko Pha Ngan, Surat Thani
  9. Noppharatthara Beach, Krabi
  10. Thala Beach, Phuket

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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